zillow

Zillow Group Buys Bridge to Go Upstream

by Victor Lund on August 16, 2016

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Zillow Group announced the purchase of Bridge Interactive, making them the provider of listing input in a number of MLSs, and the data distribution manager in many others. In some ways, Bridge Interactive is like Upstream, but not a competitor. Bridge is about helping brokers solve data problems and may become a conduit that more easily permits Upstream to allow brokers to deliver listing content to MLSs. Throughout the process of developing the Request for Proposal for Project Upstream, the technology workgroup evaluated many technology offerings. At the end of the day, there were three pieces to the Upstream puzzle that needed to be put together – Listing Input and Management; Data Repository; and Listing Distribution. Listing input and management is the hardest par, as is it includes the ability to handle the sophistication of an MLS system. Many technology firms have ample Data Repositories so that is not the hard part. Listing distribution is pretty common and not hard either. A stand-alone solution for listing input is rare, most MLS systems have this component baked in. Atlanta-based Bridge Interactive developed a specific application to solve the problem of overlapping market disorder for MLSs, whereby a single listing would go into two or more MLSs. As a case in point, the Atlanta, GA area has two MLS offerings – FMLS and Georgia MLS. Bridge Interactive allows brokers to enter a listing once into Bridge Interactive and publish it in both MLSs, as well as capture additional fields required by the broker. The hard part is supporting the business rules of an MLS or multiple MLSs and resolving them into a single user interface. Zillow Group has had the pieces to Upstream with the combination of Postlets for listing input, their massive data repository, and listing distribution, through both Postlets and Retsly. I would expect that their data repository is equal to or greater than most any data repository in our industry. It certainly is massive and seems to have no trouble with the largest concurrent real estate load in the world. But Postlets was developed for a simpler type of data input – namely input for syndication. Today, Postlets has been re-deployed as the Zillow Rentals Manager and is no longer used for listing input. With Bridge Interactive, Zillow Group has improved their capabilities in listing input significantly. Moreover, they have acquired the team from Bridge, who are among the sharpest in our […]

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WAV Group Partnering With MLSs On Zillow Survey

by Victor Lund on October 27, 2015

WAV Group is recruiting MLS and broker participants for a study to get an understanding of what these groups of people think about their relationship with Zillow. This study is funded internally at WAV Group. What do home buyers think of the service? What do home sellers think of the service? What do renters think of the service? What do Property Managers think of the Service What do Premier Agents think of the service? What does Premier Mortgage think of the service? What do real estate brokers of all sizes think of the service? By participating in the study, you will send our survey link to the audience(s) that you have access to. Primarily, we are inviting MLSs to survey agents and brokers. You will get a free copy of your survey results and a free copy of the National results. Why are we doing this? Zillow is in the process of doing a similar study right now. I was asked by a Zillow executive – Why is WAV Group doing this? WAV Group has clients all over the spectrum with Zillow. Some of our clients are raving fans and others are staunchly against the company. We find that businesses that strategically integrate Zillow services into their business can find success in the strategy. We also find that companies that strategically delist themselves from Zillow also find success. Brokerage leaders are good operators and have the ability to thrive regardless of their strategic direction. Zillow is about to release an historic price increase in January. They are going to Zip Code based pricing. For some of our broker customers, that would take their Zillow advertising from $5000 per month to $25,000 per month. In the purest form of lead capture, incubation, and conversion – the investment in advertising does not work. Zillow advertising does more than generate buyers for homes. It is a listing tool, a recruiting tool, a retention tool, and may support other business lines of full service brokerages like mortgage, title, insurance, property management, commercial, etc. If you would like to support WAV Group with this research project, please reach out to Victor Lund.

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DotLoop and Zillow

by Victor Lund on August 19, 2015

As far as I know, DotLoop customers were happy enough with the product and service until the announcement that the company was being purchased by Zillow. That news, along with the $108M price tag of the acquisition was the fundamental buzz at Inman Connect conference last week. About the price of $108 Million. Typically companies’ sell for a multiple of profit – 6x to 10x profit is not bad. The last acquisition of this type was the Real Estate Digital deal, which sold for a much lower multiple than DotLoop. In the case of DotLoop, it looks like Zillow paid a multiple of revenue. As best we can tell, DotLoop would be running at a rate of $15 million in annual revenue. Its privately held, so that number is a guess. They hold a distant third position in the market share behind ZipLogix and Instanet. With the calculus on this valuation, Instanet would be worth about $300 to $500 Million. ZipLogix would be worth about $750 Million or more. The multiple that Zillow paid on this deal is irrational unless they see an opportunity to modify the business to reap profits in entirely new ways. Rather than spend hours on the phone with the investor community discussing the deal, here is a summary outlook on why the $108 could be justified from Zillow’s point of view. I get the strategy. Today, consumers shop for property on Zillow. They then bump into a real estate agent who handles everything from there, and Z is long gone from the picture. With transaction management, they can stick their brand inside the transaction. This strategy not only allows them to measure ROI on Zillow lead conversions to measure “share of wallet,” but it also provides them with a lead to close solution that supports the consumer to think that they purchased a home on Zillow. Zillow connects with consumer mindshare first. If they continue to expand the consumer’s understanding of services from Zillow, the consumer will stick with them through more of the transaction steps. The long-term goal object seems to be to develop a Zillow customer for life. DotLoop fits with this. The homeowner will be able to log into Zillow and grab their transaction documents forever. The implications for the relationship with the broker and the agent in the loop would also seemingly be solidified. Far out strategy. Sometimes you need to […]

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Is Zillow A Great Broker?

by Victor Lund on July 23, 2015

Zillow is not a broker. Well, technically they are registered as a brokerage in many states and hold brokerage licenses, but they do not market themselves as a brokerage. The point is that they provide a lot of broker-like support for agents that are noteworthy and remarkable. There are plenty of brokers who can take a page out of their book and improve their business. Specifically, brokers can learn from the way that Zillow provides technology tools and communicates and trains agents. Wth the acquisition of of a transaction management solution they complete a broker-like set that includes agent websites with IDX, marketing, lead management, mobile, digital signatures, agent ratings, CRM, not to mention a pile of consumers. Zillow Academy Zillow has a full on training, technology, education, and support group. They have live agent events, record educational webinars, develop tutorial videos for using Zillow, and invite agents to read and discuss topics on the Zillow Pros Blog. Seriously, only a few brokers could have a full time employee doing this sort of thing. I am not sure of the number of agents that would be required to support this type of FTE, but I would guess that it’s probably somewhere in the 350 agent range. Franchises do a pretty good job of this. So does Leading Real Estate Companies of the World. Some large MLSs do this too. If you need a roadmap for excellence, take a look at this Zillow Academy page http://www.zillow.com/academy/UpcomingWebinars.htm Drip Marketing Zillow also pushes content out to agents in bite-sized pieces via email.  In fact, it was this email piece on Phone Scripts for Success that prompted this post. What I liked: Subject Line: Success is on the line, Phone Scripts that Work. It’s kinda punny – line – phone…… you get it. Strong Offer: Free Scripts – Zillow cannot do the work for agents, but we all know that door knocking and phone calls build business in the best possible way for agents. Ingredients of a broker training program Drip Marketing Webinars Training on Demand Office meetings Office Manager training Quick Start Training Help Desk Video Training WAV Group can help your brokerage put together training and communications that will transform your company. They are ideally designed for large firms. Call Victor Lund if you want a consult. p.s.  Brokers need to choose to outsource all of this stuff to Zillow, or be […]

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No HATERS in Real Estate Please!

by Marilyn Wilson on May 22, 2015

After just coming back from the NAR Mid-Year meetings I harken back to one of our greatest spiritual leaders of all time – The Dalai Lama. He has an amazing quote that I feel bears repeating – “We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasing resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder. You have always the choice.” For those of you that are following the latest real estate news, NAR Mid-Year was a very exciting meeting. There were great strides taken with the Broker Public Portal and RPR’s AMP program. There were great discussions about ways NAR through it’s RPR division could provide a whole new way to help brokers become more efficient, differentiated, innovative and maybe even more profitable. Just days before the NAR Mid-Year conference Zillow announced that it would provide public records to MLSs – another potential game changer in the industry. Are these programs “real” yet? Will any of these programs make it? Will they roll out as originally outlined? Not likely. Like all software products and new businesses their business model, revenue stream and even core value proposition might change. While I believe all of these programs present interesting opportunities for all of us to consider, this article is NOT promoting or critically evaluating ANY of them. It’s about our industry’s REACTION to new ideas.   As soon as a new idea is presented the HATERS come out in bounds. There are a million theories about why it won’t work or about the “TRUE” motivations underlying the initiative. Instead of spending a quiet moment to contemplate the potential opportunities that each idea presents, we start immediately talking about why it WON’T work. Why is it that we don’t even give ideas a chance to germinate before we throw them under the bus? Not only did I hear people panning the new initiatives being proposed, I also heard deep criticism of those that had the guts to reach out and try something new and different in the spirit of creating a stronger and more vital industry.   I find that very disappointing. The world is littered with now-defunct industries that refused to believe that disruption was inevitable or even an exciting opportunity to strengthen an industry. Instead of carefully considering a new approach to satisfy the needs of today’s customers, these industries held doggedly […]

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MLS Not Ready for Direct Syndication

by Victor Lund on May 5, 2015

In no small way, the impact of Zillow and Trulia being disconnected from ListHub has caused troubled waters for many MLSs. Although ListHub continues to manage syndication to a wide number of sites, they no longer support two of the top five. What’s the plan? MLSs are scrambling in every direction today. The biggest issue has been the data license agreement to Zillow. Everything was neat and tidy when ListHub had one agreement with each portal. Now Zillow is faced with hundreds of MLS agreements all with different terms. According to MLS executives, that is Zillow’s choice. Efforts by legal firms to negotiate on behalf of groups of MLSs have been shunned by the Zillow Group in favor of individual contracts. Comedic Tragedy: Each Zillow Group agreement is confidential. It begs the question, how can the MLS inform the broker of what is in it? MLS Technical Issues The ListHub service has two features. The first is the broker dashboard for syndication preferences. The second is the data distribution server. The broker dashboard is the critical ingredient for direct syndication. It puts brokers in charge of where their data goes through a process known as broker opt-in or broker opt-out. MLS data distribution servers from most vendors (called RETS servers) do not have a broker dashboard feature. Some MLS system vendors like FBS were quick to add them. Rapattoni launches tomorrow. CoreLogic is planning their launch roll out with customers now. Paragon is in the research and planning stages. Beyond that, I am not sure. Third Party Services Technology firms like Onboard Informatics, Real Estate Digital, Bridge Interactive and perhaps others have developed MLS solutions with enhanced features for managing and reporting on listing distribution. These services are typically found in large MLSs with more enterprise data management needs. Most smaller MLSs use the vendor solution or rely on ListHub. The Need for Communication A lot is changing everyday. Zillow is out trying to get agreements signed with over 800 MLSs. Most MLSs are not talking to their brokers about their preferences. Most brokers do not know what the readiness state is for the MLS to support direct syndication feeds. If you are a broker, call every one of your MLSs and figure out what’s going on. If you are an MLS, be sure to ask brokers what their preferences are and get feedback before making decisions. MLSs would do […]

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I had the honor of working with the Greater Albuquerque Association of REALTORS® today. They hosted a Town Hall asking for input on whether or not their brokers would like them to negotiate a Direct Feed from the Zillow Group on their behalf.  Michael Bustamante did a great job of framing the issues that need to be discussed and ultimately decided upon. While the issue is anything, but clear cut, there were interesting questions posed that may be helpful for you to use in your market as you try to think your way through your market’s decision about direct feeds. 1.     Potential Need/Impact – What percentage of your market’s listings are already being syndicated through franchises?  In this market, more than half of the listings were being syndicated through about 7 franchises.  You may want to check and see how many of your franchises already have a direct feed in place. This will help you understand what percentage of your listings are actually affected by a direct feed coming from the MLS. 2.     How many are participating?  If you currently have Listhub in your marketplace, you can get a sense of how many of your listings are currently being syndicated to Zillow and Trulia. 3.     What are the trade-offs?   The Zillow Group is offering priority placement for Listing Agents, prominent MLS attribution and a few other goodies.  Ask your members how important these trade-offs are for them.    Each MLS will likely negotiate their own terms, but you can begin with the program that has been outlined publicly. 4.     How committed are your brokers?  How important is Zillow and Trulia to your broker’s success?  There are a lot of schools of thought are the role and importance of third party sites in broker success.  Poll your brokers and find out where they come out on this topic.  If they believe these sites are an important part of their marketing mix then the next question is whether they want the MLS to negotiate a program on their behalf or if they would prefer to go it alone. 5.     Longer Term implications – While many brokers believe that Zillow and Trulia help them secure listings, some are worried about the long-term impact of such a fundamental partnership.  Ask them what their longer-term concerns are. What happens when third party sites have data that is high quality as broker sites?  What could happen to […]

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Spending Over $60K Per Month on Zillow

by Victor Lund on December 23, 2014

It is not very hard to find out who Zillow’s top customers are. Just visit the website and look at theAgent Reviews section. One of those top customers is Samer Kuraishi Group from the Washington, D.C. area. Samer is a second generation real estate agent. The brokerage, A-K Real Estate, Inc. (“A-K”) is a boutique 40 agent firm, located about two blocks from the White House, that was founded by his father. Together, they have grown the company significantly, supporting consumers in Maryland, DC, and Virginia. Much of the company’s growth has happened over the past few years and was driven by advertising on Zillow. Samer indicated that the company did about $49M in 2012 when they first started buying advertising on Zillow. This year, Samer is expecting to do $27M+ personally and he expects to hit $150 million total in 2014 which is up about 50% from 2013 $101M in sales. Samer is purchasing Zip Code marketing on Zillow at a rate of about $60k+ per month. That is more than most brokerage firms. For that, Samer is guaranteed around 700,000 consumer impressions per month on Zillow. In truth, Zillow typically over-delivers on the contracted minimum impressions, so his actual impressions are over 1.2 million per month. That is a lot of online advertising. Most of his leads come from his group profile page. When Zillow markets its advertising impressions, it does so by creating a market value of those impressions by zip code. Some zip codes may be as low as $25 per thousand impressions. On the high side, the cost per 1000 impressions (CPM) can be over $100. Many markets seem to average about $50 CPM, and lots of markets around the nation are sold-out and have a waiting list. Samer even owns zip codes where he does not typically provide services, just to build his portfolio. Today, Samer owns 110 to 115 zip codes on the Zillow site, but he refers some of the generated business to local agents, whom he trusts. For $60k+ per month, Samer receives a little more than 700 leads per month. Additionally, Samer invests in other portals and has a technology partnership with Virtual Results for his website. He has a full suite of technology solutions that he admittedly built through trial and error. But Samer says that he has everything wired the way he likes it today. “I have a […]

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The Real Benefit to Z and T Merger

by Victor Lund on October 13, 2014

Big advertisers need big media sites. Zillow is big and Trulia is big, but they are not huge.  The hugest would be Facebook. Think of the Madison Avenue crowd. Both companies have sales staff pitching pretty much the same value proposition. That sales team now turns into one. Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff pretty much said exactly this in an interview with Jim Cramer, the host of Mad Money (http://business-news.thestreet.com/crookstontimes/story/jim-cramers-mad-money-recap-now-is-not-the-time-for-panic/12861526) “Rascoff noted that when it comes to the Internet, user experience rules. Once you have an audience the advertisers will follow, he said, which is why the Trulia acquisition makes sense. Zillow will operate both brands when the acquisition closes, allowing users to pick the brand that fits them best or advertise on both platforms” WAV Group has seen this before, but not at this scale. For example, when a large phone carrier wants to target real estate agents, they come with a budget of $1 million or more to spend. There are not enough B to B impressions to fill that order. I presume by extension that Zillow and Trulia will combine to go after the huge online advertisers – Fortune 100 types.  Furthermore, they have put a moat around the business with Zillow, Trulia, Yahoo Real Estate, MSN Real Estate, AOL Real Estate, Scripts, and 360 Newspapers. Aside from the MOVE network, it is pretty hard to access homebuyer and sellers at scale without going through the Zillow network. Better yet, Zillow and Trulia will not undercut each other’s prices. The fact remains that the homebuyer and seller impression value is far above the current rates because of the amount of money they spend in the home transaction process. Thousands of dollars are up for grabs. We saw some other signals this week that will continue to play out if the merger is successful. Brokers will be able to negotiate terms with both sites in concert. Although the pricing for each site may be different, the principles around things like fair display guidelines are likely to apply to both sites. Most firms treat Z & T as a category of sites. They treat MOVE differently because of the National Association of Realtors affiliation to realtor.com. For example, I imagine that the Edina Realty agreement with both sites was pretty uniform, and Allen Tate’s choice to drop both was pretty uniform. Not being involved in either of those transaction, I […]

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Coldwell Banker Chooses Imprev

by Victor Lund on September 29, 2014

Today’s real estate firms, franchise or otherwise, need to provide a robust marketing solution for agents that especially support them with digital marketing tools: Video, virtual tours, eMail marketing, and social media marketing. In an announcement today, Coldwell Banker announced a partnership with Imprev to power their digital marketing suite for all of their franchise companies. There are a number of firms that offer marketing solutions, but the two firms that have dominated the selection among franchise organizations in the past years include Marketleader and Imprev. Strangely enough, until a few years ago, Imprev was Marketleader’s partner for their marketing suite, jointly providing a full solution to Keller Williams, unit Marketleader purchased SharperAgent in 2011. At the time of the acquisition, SharperAgent claimed 30,000 customers and Marketleader claimed 50,000 customers. Marketleader then went on to sign up a number of large franchise organizations, including Century 21. Today, the Marketleader suite is a business unit owned by Trulia who is in the process of being acquired by real estate portal leader, Zillow. No doubt, this announcement for Imprev is significant. Imprev has had a nearly decade-long standing relationship with RE/MAX and recently launched an automation platform with Berkshire Hathaway’s largest brokerage, Fox and Roach Realtors (a solution that is tightly integrated into CoreLogic’s AgentAchieve platform). Imprev shows with Coldwell Banker that it can connect to Leadrouter, which is a standard used by other Realogy franchises. Congratulations to Imprev and to Coldwell Banker’s 84,000 sales associates. Since over 80% of a firm’s business comes from sphere marketing – marketing suites like Imprev are critical service offerings. disclaimer – WAV Group has provided consulting services to all companies mentioned in this post. Press Release Coldwell Banker Unveils New eMarketing Platform Madison, N.J. (Sept. 29, 2014) – Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC today announced an agreement with Imprev, Inc. to power the Coldwell Banker® brand’s fully mobile eMarketing platform. Coldwell Banker eMarketing is part of the new Coldwell Banker 360 suite of products that give Coldwell Banker independent agents and brokers access to a platform that delivers an extensive range of exclusive designs and marketing content and allow them to easily engage with consumers via the Web, email and social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. “Our new Coldwell Banker eMarketing platform will make it easier for Coldwell Banker agents to connect with prospective home buyers and sellers while increasing productivity,” said Sean Blankenship, senior vice president […]

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Allre Causes Brokers To ReThink Strategy

by Victor Lund on September 18, 2014

The FSBO dam just sprouted another leak, and brokers better pay attention. If you have not heard about Allre, you better watch the video below right now. It is collaboration between banks like Prime Lending, Home Insurance providers, home warranty companies, and even a lock box vendor to facilitate FSBO sales. The fee to the consumer is ZERO – nothing. There are no brokerage services at all, so they completely surpass all RESPA regulations. It is 100% FSBO. The only thing that will sit between Allre and success is venture capital. If they attract enough venture capital to attract the consumer, traditional brokerage is going to hit a wall. WAV Group is a strategy company. To remain competitive, businesses need to act in ways that allow them to survive in a fast changing market place. In the case of Allre – they are only launching in San Diego. Perhaps the industry at large does not need to hit the panic button yet. However, you probably need to pay close attention. I know that we will. San Diego is a high value market place. According to Zillow, (http://www.zillow.com/san-diego-ca/home-values/) the average home price in San Diego is $492,000. As a side bar, I did a Google search for “the average home price in San Diego and the only broker who had the information was ZipRealty – an article from 2012; Trulia Voices had a question about home building; and the best first search result was Zillow. Where are all of the Brokers, Associations, and MLS answers? Why The Business Will Work Everyone talks about the 6% commission rate – but my research shows that the number may be a bit lower in actuality which is line with the Allre CEO talks about in her pitch. It makes San Diego a ripe candidate for this style of opportunity pursuit. That is enough incentive for FSBO buyers and seller to take a risk and sample the service. I would not be surprised to see a similar service pop up in San Jose, Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Francisco, and other high-end real estate markets in California. If you average sales price is below $200,000 – the incentive for FSBOs to save money is less attractive. Driving Consumer Traffic Today, there are a number of third party websites that allow for FSBO listings. They already have lots of consumer traffic buoyed by a great consumer search […]

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The End Of War Between Zillow and Trulia

by Victor Lund on August 13, 2014

There is a major war going on in the taxi industry today. Uber and Lyft are duking it out. Both companies have deep cash pockets and they are deploying it in marketing and undercutting each other. It is pretty hard to know which service is better as they work hard to drive market share. As Zillow marches toward the stock swap to join forces with Trulia, perhaps a new wisdom of that transaction will reveal itself. They just avoided a very expensive war where the two of them may have killed each other off to reign supreme. It is pretty clear that the company that spends the most to attract the consumer is the company that gets the most traffic. Sure, the site itself is important in terms of usability or in terms of features like AVM, mortgage information, agent ratings, rentals and the like. But the real reason why these companies have the traffic they have is that they take every dollar they bring in from agents and brokers and buy more traffic. Many industry analysts have long term concerns about the voice of real estate not being a broker or an agent or part of the REALTOR family. Those are reasonable concerns that any incumbent would have in the face of new competition. But look at the facts. These companies are marketing the entire real estate industry on the back of investor dollars more than ad revenue from agents and brokers. Even if you want them to go away – be sure to thank them for the advertising first. They built the mulit-billions in value in their business. As an aside – Uber and Lyft have grown their value to $18.2 billion. I guess the taxi booking business is big business. Remember, market-share lead does not assure success. These companies are hopeful that it will, but in the interim, some brokers and agents are riding on the returns from their investment in reaching the consumer. They are putting more dollars to work than the dollars that you pay J We expected this value to continue for many years as Trulia and Zillow independently competed against each other by deploying dollars from their IPO. With the merger, these companies are not likely to be injured by competition between the two of them. They are on the same team. It will be time for Realtor.com and Homes.com to step up. Competition […]

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Zillow Announces Trulia Acquisition

by Victor Lund on July 28, 2014

Two of America’s third party real estate portals have entered into a definitive agreement for Zillow (Z) to purchase Trulia (TRLA) for $3.5 billion in stock-for-stock trade. The Board of Directors of both companies have agreed to the transaction which represents a 25 percent premium to Trulia Stockholders, based on Trulia’s closing price on Friday, July 25, 2014. The transaction will now face regulatory approval. Goldman, Sachs & Co. brokered the transaction. Trulia CEO Pete Flint will retain that title, join the Zillow Board of Directors along with one other designee, and will remain the leader of the Trulia.com business unit. He will report directly to Zillow CEO, Spencer Rascoff. The two companies will carry on doing business as usual. The strategy for the merger outlined five key benefits for the companies: Faster Innovation – Combining development resources will allow the companies to accelerate innovation for consumers and professionals. Greater Access to Free Real Estate Market Data – Companies expect they will combine their data management, trend analysis, and forecasts. Broader Distribution – Home sellers and their agents, brokerages, and participating MLSs will benefit from seamless free distribution of listings across even more platforms to reach an even larger audience of consumers. Enhanced Value and ROI for Advertisers – The companies expect to offer shared services, marketing platforms for advertisers, enhance agent productivity and marketing, and deliver greater return on their investment. Corporate Cost Savings – By operating independent consumer brands though one corporation, the companies expect to realize synergies to improve operational efficiency over the long-term. By 2016, management expects to achieve at least $100 million in annualized cost savings. There were a few interesting data points in the press release. The first was that the advertising universe is a $12 billion dollar market – a remarkable number reported by Borrell Associates produced by a survey response. The second is that these companies combine to attract just 4 percent of that online advertising buy. Today, there is still more money being spent on newspapers than the combined online spend across all online portals. This represents a healthy strategy for both companies. It is anticipated that the combined companies will be able to do things like: leverage the same data management processes, same publisher agreements, same sales people, same marketing, same billing, etc. For brokers and agents using these services, it will be much easier to manage one relationship rather than two. Unfortunately, it may be six months to […]

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The Triad of Consumers, People, and REALTORS

by Victor Lund on June 12, 2014

There were a few very interesting articles in the Washington Post this week. Unlike industry commentary about the Zestimate, this one took place in public. The Washington Post stirred the pot a bit, as only the politically divided would do so naturally. The battle was epic. At 5:30 AM, David Howell of McNearney Associates published a piece titled “How Accurate is Zillow’s Zestimate? Not very, says one Washington-area agent. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/where-we-live/wp/2014/06/10/how-accurate-is-zillows-zestimate-not-very-says-one-washington-area-agent/ At 5:31, Stan Humphries, Zillow Chief Economist responded in his article titles “How Accurate is the Zestimate? Zillow says the tool is helpful when used the right way.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/where-we-live/wp/2014/06/10/how-accurate-is-the-zestimate-zillow-says-the-tool-is-helpful-when-used-the-right-way/ You really do not need to read the articles unless you are new in real estate.  Real estate agents know the Zestimate is not accurate. It is just the best that math can produce. The frustration that real estate agents have is that the consumer is not keenly aware of the accuracy of the Zestimate. Because consumers typically check with Zillow before talking to an agent, real estate professionals are constantly starting conversations of home value around the Zestimate. Real estate agents hate that, and REALTORS® hate it even more.  So what do you do about it? About David Howell David Howell is a REALTOR®. In fact, he is the past President of one of America’s great REALTOR Associations – the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS. He was also the Chairman of NVAR’s Professionals Standards Committee. He was also a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Regional Information System or MRIS. He is licensed in Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland. He currently serves McEarney Associates Inc REALTORS® as the Executive Vice President & CIO.  He has been a real estate broker since 1984. The Media Play I do not have the inside skinny on this public seeding of articles, but the fact that one landed exactly one minute after the other landed tells me that this was planned. I know that MRIS has a great relationship with the Washington Post. Clearly Zillow does also, or the Washington Post has learned from politics that if you are going to allow one side to bash the other, let the other side have a chance to respond. A good ol’ fashioned debate. Stan Humphries of Zillow held his ground nicely, and reminded folks that the Zestimate is not for making housing decisions. The Zestimate tells this story in its name […]

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Are my listings going everywhere – Zillow Front Door

by Victor Lund on February 13, 2013

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Whenever an announcement like the Zillow-Front Door announcement is made, brokers have questions about their data and where it is going. We call this the issue of re-syndication, and whenever an announcement is made made about one party sending data to another party – brokers should know. Zillow is not re-syndicating to HGTV’s Frontdoor.com website. The first thing that I would suggest to any broker providing data to any publisher is to have a contract with the publisher that defines what they can or cannot do with your data. Most of the franchisors like REALOGY, Keller Williams, RE/MAX, and others have such agreements in place. If you are a franchisee, ask your franchise rep for a briefing on how they are protecting your data. Be aware, you must syndicate through your franchisor for this agreement to cover you. If you send listings from the MLS to the publisher, from your website to the publisher, from your virtual tours to the publisher, or allow agnets to send them to the publisher using postlets or any other means – that data is not covered under those protective agreements. If you syndicate through MOVE, Inc, Listhub or through Yardi’s  Point2 product, there is great information in the broker dashboard about re-syndication. In the case of Zillow, they power hundreds of websites beyond Zillow.com – most prominently they power realestate.yahoo.com and have a partnership with CNHI (Community Newpaper Holdings, Inc).  They are “part of this publishers extended network. These sites are either subsites owned and operated by the publisher, or sites powered by the publisher. In all cases, listings remain resident in the primary publisher’s database at all times.” Interestingly enough, there is no mention of HGTV or FrontDoor in the Zillow page on Listhub, yet. I am sure they are working on it. FrontDoor.com is still listed as a publisher on Listhub, and they have a 6 out of 10 rating. FrontDoor, like Zillow also powers subsites operated by the HGTV along with sites powered by the publisher where listings remain resident in the FrontDoor data bases. OpenHouse.com is one of the key sites in their network – about 75 or 80 sites in all.  So, to answer the question about where your data is going – it is not going anywhere beyond the walls of Zillow according to the public proclamations.  You should take a careful look at your local newspaper or television website to see if Zillow, […]

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Zillow to power HGTV

by Victor Lund on February 8, 2013

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I have always been a fan of HGTV’s strategy to marry their television audience and content with property search. I do not watch TV much, but I do tune into HGTV from time to time and have run some analysis on the comprehensiveness of the listing data on their site. From our point of view, HGTV did not go far enough to put timely calls to action into programming to drive the television audience to search for homes on their property search portal. This is my opinion, not grounded in any facts. Suffice it to say that Zillow is going to get another bump in traffic, and as HGTV suggests in the press release – they will have a better search solution. Sounds like a great win for both companies, consumers, and brokers who syndicate to Zillow. Here is the full press release: Zillow to Power For-Sale and For-Rent Listings on HGTV’s FrontDoor (via PR Newswire) Partnership Will Allow Real Estate Agents to Easily Market Listings Across Four Leading U.S. Real Estate Sites SEATTLE and KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Feb. 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Zillow, Inc. (NASDAQ: Z), the leading real estate information marketplace, today announced that HGTV®’s FrontDoor™ is joining…

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Zillow expands rental offering with Hotpads acquisition

by Victor Lund on November 26, 2012

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Market leading real estate publisher Zillow expanded their footprint by entering into an agreement to purchase Hot Pads today. The strategy behind the acquisition seems squarely aimed at conquering a larger audience of real estate consumers, namely consumers interested in rental properties. In October, Hotpads had nearly 2.8 Million Unique Visitors. Depending on how you add up traffic to Zillow and their other sites like realestate.yahoo.com, it adds up to less than a 5% increase in traffic. Moreover, Zillow picks up highly skilled staff that understand the real estate portal business, and how to manage data. Although Zillow already has a solid technology team, these 19 extra craftsman from Hot Pads are bound to prove their value by lending their expertise, and hit the ground running. Zillow is also likely to fuel their sales funnel for their rental software product, Rent Juice. It is hard to see the full vision for Zillow’s investment strategy with the money raised from their successful public auction, but one by one, pieces fall into place. They are certainly becoming stronger every day. For those of you who send listings to Zillow and Hot Pads, you may want to watch for any changes in effectiveness. The 2007 Series A investment in Hot Pads raised $2.3M. Zillow purchased the company for $16M giving the Hot Pads founders and investors a nice return. Congratulations to both companies on their success. Here is the Zillow Press Release: SEATTLE and SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Zillow, Inc. (NASDAQ: Z), the leading real estate information marketplace, today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to buy San Francisco-based HotPads, a map-based rental and real estate search site for $16 million in cash. This is Zillow’s first acquisition of a primarily consumer-facing company. The transaction is subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2012. HotPads™ is an established and significant player in rentals for both consumers and professionals, offering a robust website and five mobile apps across iPhone®, iPad® and Android™. Nearly 2.8 million unique users visited HotPads in Octoberi, primarily to shop for rentals. Nearly 70 percentii of all listings viewed during the month were homes or apartments for rent. The addition of HotPads will allow Zillow® to expand the size of its growing rental audience and extend the reach of its marketing tools and productivity solutions for rental professionals. […]

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Zillow brings 1.2M listings out of the shadow

by Victor Lund on October 29, 2012

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Since the housing market crash, there has been lots of discussion about shadow inventory. These are properties that are in bank foreclosure or pre-foreclosure that are making their way onto the market. Up until now, this inventory has been slowly released – perhaps strategically by banks who want to contain loss exposure – but more likely as a result of the slow process for foreclosure across America. The only thing slower than a bank’s decision making process is the US Court system. Last week, Zillow – one of the three leading search portals in America began to display 1.2Million listings. As a result, the shadow inventory is no longer in the shadow. What is interesting is that consumers are required to “sign in” to view these foreclosures in their area. I guess that this is Zillow’s version of a VOW. Just for fun, I signed in and looked at a home that was in foreclosure – 1220 Montecito Ridge 93420.  Zillow listed this home with a Zestimate of $1,235,887 – $52,000 below the Zestimate. I looked up the same property on REALTORS(r) Property Resource. The RVM on this property is $1,424, 000. The owner is the Reed family (information that you cannot get on Zillow) and they live in Santa Maria, CA (full mailing address is available in RPR). I think that agents should be very grateful that Zillow has made this data available, for free. Consumers are likely to find these homes on Zillow then contact an agent for information. This is where RPR comes in – as a REALTOR(r), beginning tomorrow – you can look up that distressed property and possibly reach out to the owner for a short sale. RPR becomes available to all REALTORS(r) tomorrow. You can also find this information in REALIST, or iMapp, or LPS Tax. It is not clear who is providing Zillow with this shadow inventory data. Could be CoreLogic, could be LPS, is probably both. It is also not clear to me who is getting access to all of the consumer registration data. Those buyer leads are more valuable than the listing data. Perhaps the next horizon for broker websites will be the inclusion of Shadow inventory. The data is available for sale. There may be issues in many markets whereby brokers are not allowed to co-mingle MLS data with non-mls data. A separate search will be necessary to skirt this rule.

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ListHub’s API and Golden Ruler Report Helps a Broker

by Victor Lund on October 5, 2012

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There are all kinds of reasons why a company wants analytics on the performance of their online marketing. Listhub provides this service to brokerages that use their syndication services. The fee for the service is typically just a few dollars per month per agent, but it will track where your listings appear online – for better or for worse. WAV Group has gained an appreciation for the reporting by reviewing MLS level reports that show a federated view of all listings syndicated in the market through Listhub. I will be using these reports in my upcoming talk at the Colorado Association of REALTORS® meetings. They are far more valuable than the small fee charged by Listhub. They inform great decisions about where to send your data, and the effects of online marketing (if any). Listhub offers their syndication services through Franchises – REALOGY, Keller Williams and others have deployed the service. Brookfield uses reDataVault from Real Estate Digital (RED). The Canadian Association of REALTORS® or CREA uses Point2. Here is what I have noticed. For brokers who are part of a Franchise, there are usually preferences to the way that a broker’s listing is displayed. For example, Century 21 Brokers syndicating through the franchise program benefit from not having competitors displayed on their listings, among other privileges like discounts on enhanced listings. For Century 21 Brokers, the Golden Ruler Report is free. Unfortunately, none of these solutions track listings everywhere. For example, the report does not include the number of times a listing was viewed in the MLS, or on another broker’s website, or on the newspaper’s website, or even on the broker’s own website. Listhub and others like Onboard 360 are offering APIs that can be installed on any website. Century 21 Hometown Realty wanted to make the Golden Ruler Report better, so they installed the Listhub API on their Wolfnet website. It is not easy to get a company to put someone else’s code into their product. The Listhub API is a little code snippet that works a little bit like Google Analytics. Every time you ask a website to do something, it adds one more task that slows a website down. Furthermore, there is some remote chance that they can bring the site or even the server down. Let;s just say that Wolfnet did a lot of diligence and testing before they put the Listhub API on […]

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October 3, 2012—The WAV Group today published the results of an independent study of 11 major markets that found local real estate brokerage websites give consumers the most complete, accurate and timely information about homes for sale. The study evaluated sites from three local brokerages with real estate agents who help consumers buy and sell homes, comparing listing search results to those found on two national portals, Trulia and Zillow, which operate almost exclusively online. In the markets analyzed, the study concluded: Local real estate brokerage sites display 100% of the agent-listed homes for sale compared to about 80% for the national portal sites. Local real estate brokerage sites show newly listed homes for sale seven to nine days earlier than national portals. Local real estate brokerage sites almost never show a home listing as active that has already sold; about 36% of listings that appear as active on national portals are no longer for sale. The WAV Group, a national consultancy specializing in real estate technology, conducted the study. Independent analysts verified the study data, record by record. Redfin, a technology-powered broker with more than $5 billion in home sales sponsored the study.  Listing data from the websites of Long & Foster, one of the largest independent real estate brokerages in the U.S. and Windermere, the largest regional real estate brokerage in the Western U.S., was also included in the study. “We analyzed a sample of more than 6,000 listings in 33 zip codes in 11 markets, comparing the data on various websites against 14 local Multiple Listing Services,” said WAV Group CEO Victor Lund. “The findings are clear: real estate brokerage websites showed by far the most homes for sale, recognized which homes were no longer for sale, and displayed new listings much earlier.” The source of brokers’ advantage is direct access to local real estate databases. In each U.S. city or area, all real estate brokers subscribe to a local association known as a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to share the listing data collected by their agents with consumers. Each MLS tracks locale-specific attributes about listings, noting for example which Seattle homes have waterfront access or which Virginia homes are historic. Only real estate brokers can be members of a local MLS. In contrast, national portals mostly rely on individual agents or real estate brokerages to re-post MLS listings on the portal websites, or the portals aggregate […]

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